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Three New Senators Named To Fill Section 44 Slots, But Doubts Over A Fourth

A Liberal replacement for Fiona Nash may be ruled out by Section 44 too.

In the dual citizenship saga, we've become used to having MPs resign from the Federal parliament, but today the High Court has named three new senators to join the upper house.

But just as Section 44 of the Constitution has ruled out a swathe of politicians, it might too scupper the hopes of even one of the replacements.

Greens Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlam, One Nation's Malcolm Roberts and Nationals deputy leader Fiona Nash were recently ruled ineligible for election by the High Court due to their dual citizenship status.

After a count back of results from the 2016 election, their replacements were officially named in the High Court on Friday, all being the next person on the ballot paper behind the ineligible candidates.

Pub owner Fraser Anning was named as the new One Nation senator for Queensland, disability advocate Jordon Steele-John was declared as a new senator for Western Australia to take Ludlam's place, and former Democrats leader Andrew Bartlett was named the new Greens senator for Queensland in place of Waters. Those three will join the federal parliament, and be sworn in formally on Monday when the Senate resumes sitting.

Liberal candidate Hollie Hughes would have been named the new senator for NSW, replacing Nash, but the High Court said there were question marks over her eligibility to be elected.

She had been named a member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal following her failure to be elected at the 2016 poll. Under section 44 of the constitution, a person who "holds any office of profit under the Crown" is ineligible for election.

This issue had been foreseen in the wake of the High Court decision on Nash, and Hughes reportedly officially resigned from the AAT on October 30. Attorney-General George Brandis said last week that she would be in the clear to take her Senate seat as she was not employed by the AAT at the time of election, and only took up the position after the election.

"The relevant date for these purposes for determining whether or not there is a section 44 issue is the date upon which the person is declared to be elected," he told ABC radio.

However, High Court justice Stephen Gageler said he was considering referring Hughes' case to the full bench of the court, to determine if she was eligible.

The new senators are a mixed bag and interesting lot. New One Nation representative Anning was himself under a section 44 cloud due to bankruptcy proceedings commenced against him and his wife, which may have ruled him ineligible. However, that case was withdrawn last month. His profile on the One Nation website, which has since been deleted, previously stated that he is from Gladstone, is in the hotel business, and spent several years as marketing manager for an aircraft manufacturing company on the Sunshine Coast called Skyfox Aviation.

Steele-John is 22, and still studying at university. He has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, and is thought to be Australia's youngest ever federal senator. Liberal senator James Paterson, who was previously the youngest, was happy to relinquish his title on Twitter following the announcement that Steele-John would enter the Senate as a new representative for WA.

Andrew Bartlett may be a familiar name and face to many, having been a senator for the Democrats from 1997 to 2008. He has since joined the Greens, and will replace Larissa Waters as a senator for Queensland.

"I already have over ten years of experience as a Senator for Queenslanders, and I will be getting to work immediately. My job now is to help Queenslanders struggling to pay their rent and mortgages with flatlining wages, dealing with skyrocketing cost of living expenses and a lack of public infrastructure," he said in a statement on Friday.

"For too long big corporations have profited off the backs of Queenslanders with the help of Labor and the LNP. This must end. The people of Queensland must come before corporate profit and political greed."

"I pay tribute to the work of my predecessor Larissa Waters and her courageous and ethical approach she took in resigning her seat as soon as she became aware of her dual citizenship."

More to come.

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